Earlier this week, Bermuda became the first country to repeal a law allowing same-sex marriage.
Just last year, the Bermuda Supreme Court ruled in favour of allowing same sex couples to marry, but this act in favour of equality has been repealed by the combined influence of Bermuda’s governor and the socially conservative, Catholic majority population.
As Bermuda is a self-governing British Overseas territory, many LGBT+ activists from the UK as well as Bermuda have lobbied the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to use his high position of Government power to try and influence this backwards step, but despite the Prime Minister releasing a statement of ‘serious disappointment’ about the ban, the UK Government allowed Bermuda to continue. This direct lack of action by the UK Government reflects extremely poorly on their stance on gender and sexuality equality, and as stated by Labour MP Chris Byrant, ‘totally undermines UK effort to advance LGBT rights.’
Furthermore, this ban does not only affect LGBT+ citizens of Bermuda. Cruise ships registered in Bermuda will have to comply with this law and will no longer be able to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies on board. This includes cruise company giants P&O and Cunard, who issued a joint statement saying:
“We are very unhappy about this decision and we do not underestimate the disappointment this will cause those guests who have planned their weddings.”
This ban could also have an effect on tourism, with LGBT+ tourists and allies choosing more gay-friendly islands in solidarity, which could cause havoc for the island since a majority of its economy revolves around tourism.
However, the most detrimental effects of this retrograde step could be yet to come.
With Bermuda taking a leap to become the first, LGBT+ people are left wondering which country may repeal same-sex marriage next. The actions of the Bermudan government could have opened a door to decreasing civil rights for the LGBT+ community worldwide. If other homophobic lawmakers follow suit, many generally accepting countries may become unsafe for LGBT+ citizens once more. And, with politicians like ‘conversion-therapy’ supporter Mike Pence in power, this is a genuine and terrifying threat for LGBT+ people all over the world.
Bermuda’s step against equality is a discriminatory, harsh reminder of the constant, increasing need for LGBT+ activism worldwide.
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